Question: What is it that we really want from our Public Schools?


By: Peter Larocque -January, 2011

Lawrence High SchoolAs we begin 2011, should we even dare ask this question? It would seem to me that before we place a list of complaints at the feet of our Public Schools we should at least let them know what our expectations are! It is totally unfair to our public schools to complain about the negative results and low test scores without telling them what we really expect from them.

Another way of posing the question could be, what place in the lives of our children do we want public schools to play? If we want our public schools to play the part of babysitter, then lest say so! If we want our public schools to play the part of disciplinarian, then lest say so! If we want our public schools to play the part of nutritionist, then lest say so! Then after listing all these expectations we conclude by saying, please educate our children.

We would finally own up to what we have been saying all these years without really coming out and saying it! In actuality, what we have done is successfully removed any responsibility, liability, answerability, accountability, or culpability from parents and even the students themselves. The bottom line then would be clear; we want our children to be totally dependent on the state!

Having come clean on what we really expect from our Public Schools would also help to answer many of the questions that have been asked over the years concerning the low test scores. Why are cities like Lawrence always at the bottom of the State test scores? The answer is simple; education is last on the list of what we expect from our Public Schools. In addition to education being last on the list we say, we expect our children to become responsible adults in the future who will contribute to society in a positive way!

How can they be responsible adults in the future if they are not made responsible now? How can they be expected to contribute in the future if they are not made to contribute now? If the first teachers, role models, which are the parents, are exempt from any responsibility, how can the children really learn by example? Or, maybe they are, for example; we find many of our school age children overweight? The answer is, the public school lunch program made them that way! The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama was quoted as saying, “we just can’t leave it to the parents”, and “obesity is a national security threat”. Where did she place the blame? The food businesses and food chains for targeting children! Over the next ten years 4.5 Billion dollars will be spent on the “new” School Lunch Program Law signed by President Obama December 13, 2010. Couldn’t this money be better spent elsewhere? Just asking?

Have you ever wondered why Private schools, Charter schools are doing a better job in education? Mainly because in these institutions parents and students are engaged, involved and invested and committed to succeed! They simply are disciplined to do the work required to succeed! These institutions have strict discipline codes which must be followed by the student in order to attend. Now what happens when a student decides to not do the work required or follow the rules? They are very simply asked to leave and then they end up back in Public Schools and there they can choose to fall behind with no consequences because there they are not held responsible.

May I suggest that we change our expectations of our Public Schools? Change who is responsible and for what! May I humbly suggest that Parents wake up and take more responsibility in the education and the disciplining of their children. Expecting more Stimulus money from the government in addition to all the money being donated to education by Warren Buffett and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does not come close to what really happens in the lives of children when parents take responsibility and get involved in their education.

May I also humbly suggest one more thing to Parents, please take more of an active role in curriculum. Get rid of the meaningless, make you feel good studies that do nothing, adding nothing to help students become well rounded responsible adults. For example, a class on Pop Culture where a teacher at Lawrence High took her class across the street to see one of the “Twilight” movies about Vampires! On what level does this improve MCASS Scores Mr. Julie?

This is just an example of an area where Parents need to get involved. Curriculum is and has been a holy grail for the administration and has never been touched by the School Committee, or Parents.

This is an area where the Superintendent of Schools and the Administration have been left on their own. May I humbly suggest a greater involvement by the School Committee and Parents in what is exactly being taught to our children, you may be surprised in what you find. Well parents, you now have your homework assignment for 2011. It’s a local election year, so make an informed decision, get involved, your children are counting on you. The future of our country is counting on you. God Bless the parents and their children in Public Schools!